The Eric Trap

Very excited that our Book is done after  2 years of hard work and dreaming up the idea for a different kind of collaborative book project. I love that The Eric Trap is a story about a kids pastor written by kids pastors. Being a leadership fable the story pulls you in and the principles reinforce the things you read in the fable.

Even though this book was written by kids pastors the principles in this book apply to kids pastors but really to anyone on staff at a church. It was lots of fun to write lots of work but really proud of our group. Writing a book with a group of people is no small feat. Kenny and I wrote the story of Eric Brother Jim and the rest of our infuse team wrote the principles everyone did such a good job.

The book officially goes on sale at the Orange Conference. We’ll be doing a book signing. Everyone will be able to get it after Orange. However, we do have some books we’re giving away for bloggers to review and give away. If you are interested in getting a copy to review on your blog/Amazon… please click here.

Excited to share Eric’s story with the world and very excited to find out what happens with Eric next.

Here is what some people have to say about The Eric Trap. 

Every leader in your organization (staff or volunteer) who has even a remote desire to control things can benefit from The Eric Trap – please don’t limit this book’s audience to people who serve in children’s ministry.  This book provides us with a dead accurate description of the dynamics of ministry, coupled with practical, insightful principles that can guide any leader out of the leadership traps we place ourselves in.  Jim, Sam, Kenny and their team write with clarity, power and insight that make this book hard to put down.  I think this book is great.  The topics talked about here are not just Kidmin issues, but also Student ministry issues and even Senior Pastor issues. (it’s why most churches don’t grow past 100 people).  This is a leadership book! Well done!
Senior Pastor
Connexus Community Church

“The “Eric Trap” takes ministry leaders on a dark, serious, and scary journey into the world of working in a church and balancing your priorities.  It was eerie how much the story mirrored my own story in so many ways.  I believe the “Eric Trap” can be a game changer for those willing to shine the light into the dark places of their own pastoral lives.  It’s on the other side of change that the insights gained from this book pay off in a rich way!”

Next Generations Ministry Pastor,
Trinity Church,
From the very first introduction of the book with the story of Eric I was engaged. Without a doubt leaders will identify with different aspects of Eric’s story and the “Eric Traps” we have all either faced or experienced in ministry. If you are a children’s, student’s and/or family ministry leader I would encourage you to get this book. This book will bring clarity by helping leaders see what is important and showing that when you make a deposit in others God will build you & the ministry you serve in.
Jim Wideman, Sam Luce, Kenny Conley and the entire team do an amazing job to identify how you as a leader can rise higher and help you avoid the pitfalls that challenge leaders in ministry. I highly recommend “The Eric Trap” !
Pastor and Director of Ministries
Lakewood Church


Leadership Fundamentals.



In the 1960s, the premier football team in the NFL was the Green Bay Packers. They won five NFL titles in 60’s. They also won the first two Super Bowls. Their coach; the Superbowl Trophy’s namesake, Vince Lombardi.

Vince Lombardi was an incredible coach and an outstanding leader; one of his greatest successes, wasn’t just winning championships, but building an enduring team. He won because of the teams he built, and he built the team he did because he focused on what he called the fundamentals of the game.

If you are a fan of sports at all you will have at least heard of the legendary Vince Lombardi. Vince understood something that caused his teams to be great and allow him to achieve greatness on the field few have matched. He understood that winning doesn’t come be accident. He preached the value of fundamentals.
“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” Vince Lombardi
In sport, and life, winning and losing always comes down to the fundamentals, will the person or team do the small things right. If so, nine times out of ten they come out on the winning side.
When I was in High School I played basketball, I wasn’t the best player on the court but I was part a great team.  Our coach absolutely hounded us with the practice and value of fundamentals. We did drills over and over again. We begged to scrimmage; we loved to play the game, but our coach wouldn’t let us, “Any given day any team can lose, but it’s the team that executes the fundaments flawlessly that will win” he would howler. Win we did that year, we lost one game by 2 points and actually ended up placing third in state. Did we win because we were the most talented? I don’t think so, looking back I believe it was because we did the right things all the time.
Leadership is all about doing the right things all the time, developing what Lombardi calls a winning habit. What does a winning habit look like in the leadership in Children’s ministry? What are the fundamentals of Children’s Ministry that winning? If you’re going to soar in Children’s Ministry what are the things you need to be doing at the ground level? What things do you focus on in the first year? If you’re a grizzly veteran, what are the fundamentals you must revisit every year?
Vince Lombardi  said it this way, “Every time a football player goes to play his trade he’s got to play from the ground up — from the soles of his feet right up to his head.”
  1. Lead With Vision
  2. Build with Relationships
  3. Grow with change
An organization that is lead by vision, builds relationship, and is continually changing will produce fruit that remains. As a leader your passion is sapped when you forget these fundamentals, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the arena of kids ministry. Remember and constantly work on the fundamentals.
This is part of my article from  K! Magazine. To read my article in total as well as many others from men and woman I respect greatly subscribe now. I love the layout and content of K! it reminds me of Harvard Business Review and that’s saying something. If you are in Children’s Ministry you need to be a subscriber.

The Lifecycle of good leadership

I posted a couple of posts here and here that were largely focused at younger leaders. I want to talk to some of us who have been around for a while.

After leading in the same church for a good stretch of time and meeting other leaders from around the country. I have started to notice a leadership trend of sorts that I don’t believe has been talked about much. It’s the lifecycle of a leader. Have you ever met a 50 year old person who is trying to act like they are 20 it’s weird and unnatural. I’m not saying you have to wear Hawaiian shirts because you are 50 it’s just weird because there are certain levels of maturity you expect from people at different points in their lives. Leadership is much the same way.

This is personal observation and I’m still working through it so bear with me. Here is my challenge to everyone who is leading someone out there know where God has you in your lifecycle of leadership don’t despise where you are but embrace it with an attitude of faith and obedience and God will use you where you are more than you will ever know.

1. Learning

  • When you are staring out don’t pretend you know everything because you don’t, actually I know that  I know less than I thought I knew when I started. Ask more questions than you answer.
  • Email, call, tweet, connect with leaders who are further down the road than you.
  • The moment you feel that you have arrived you are in trouble and you are the last one to know it.
  • It’s in this season that you need to observe grow, learn and formulate ideas, get big vision. In some ways we never move on from here.
  • Build your team lean into God more than you lean into anything else

2. Doing

  • This is where you start pulling your team together.
  • You start to put to action those things God place on your heart to do.
  • This is where you start to find your voice for your generation. This doesn’t mean that you are going to travel and speak it means that you are going to use the skills you have learned to reach your generation.
  • Every generation has a means God uses to reach them it’s our job to find that means and speak His message to Glorify him not us. In the doing phase you are applying what you have learned and are typically to busy to help others because you are in the thick of what God has called you to do.

3. Teaching

  • There is a point somewhere along the way that you start to share with others what you have learned and how you have seen God use what you have learned to bless other people and reach people.
  • You start to let go of things so that you can allow other to learn and do.
  • You impart to the next generation not the means that you used but the lessons you learned, the mistakes you made and victories you won.
  • You take the sum total of what you have learned and what you have done to help create a foundation for the next generation of leaders to build on using the methods and the means God has called them to use.

We need fathers who will step up and teach and we need more sons who will be quiet and listen. To much of leadership is about preferance not enough is about timeless principles. There is nothing more frustrating (for the leader and for those they are leading) than a leader operating outside of their where God has them, a young guy teaching untested theories as if they are gospel, older leaders blindly clinging to older methods and neglecting to pass on the principles behind the methods.

I can’t tell you where you are as a leader but you know. Embrace where you are, grow, learn, apply and give away. In the end everyone will forget who you are and God will get the glory, and that’s just how it’s supposed to be. 

It’s not who follows you it’s who you follow.

It’s not who follows you it’s who you follow.

One of the things that blogs, facebook, twitter and social media have created is a follower culture. Everyone is obsessed with hits, followers and fans. It can take over your life. How do I know? I have been obsessed with how many follower on twitter I have and how many hit I have on my blog. While helpful to measure growth and effectiveness it can also be very self focused and ego driven.

What would Jesus Do? Would he be on twitter? He actually is and has 456,000 followers.

Paul tells us to

1 Corinthians 11:1
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ

Matthew 4:19

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

We focus to much on who follows us. We measure of influence our worth by how many people are lining up behind us and in the process we can forget to focus on who we are following. We can easily forget that our influence comes from who we are following rather than those who follow us. Don’t get me wrong leadership isn’t leadership unless someone is following you, but as a leader if you don’t know where you are going people won’t be following long.

If you are a young leader

1. Don’t just count everyone make sure everyone counts
2. Make sure everyone leaves a conversation with you inspired by you not in awe of you.
3. Effectiveness is measured by obedience. Obedience can’t always be measured by more followers.
4. Do what’s right not what will get you more followers.
5. Before you follow someone find out who they follow.

What you build speaks louder than what you tweet.


What you build speaks louder than what you tweet.

I love twitter it’s a powerful tool and every kids pastor should be on twitter to learn and grow and share what they have learned. I have met some amazing children’s pastors that I would never have know if it wasn’t for twitter. For that I am grateful.

One of the things that concerns me with the advent of twitter and facebook is that people can gain a platform and become an expert without ever having built anything. Am I saying the only people that should say anything are those who have 2000 kids in their ministry? Absolutely not.